Psychopathology, adversity, and service utilization of young refugees

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2000 Mar;39(3):368-77. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200003000-00020.


Objective: To investigate the psychopathology, social impairment, adversities, and service utilization of refugee families and their children seeking help at a child and adolescent psychiatry clinic in London.

Method: A retrospective case-control study of 30 refugee children and families individually matched with nonrefugee immigrant families and white British families. Case note review was carried out to obtain data on diagnosis, social adjustment, past adversity, exposure to violence, current socioeconomic circumstances, and use of the child and adolescent psychiatric service.

Results: Refugee children tended to have disorders with a psychosocial etiology rather than neurobiological disorders. Refugees had similar levels of social impairment compared with the other groups. Refugees were much more isolated and disadvantaged and had different referral pathways but were not more likely to drop out of treatment prematurely.

Conclusions: Refugee children and families had been exposed to high levels of adversity. The ability of community agencies to refer families who could use treatment has significant resource implications.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Change Events*
  • London / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Utilization Review